Friday, September 25, 2015

When I assemble with Christians for worship I long for and expect to feel something. That something I felt when I first gave my life to Christ. I don't know what to call it. Maybe passion. Maybe a great joy that comes from feeling bathed in the grace of God.

I want to feel Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! Not holy moly.

I don't want to struggle with slapping my hands together in time with the worship leader.

I want to be moved with passion to sing praises to God.

To feel tears of joy in the corner of my eyes as I remember the grace of God.

I want to encourage and be encouraged by others like we are reminded to do in Hebrews 10.

Isaiah 6 says, In a great chorus they sang, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty! The whole earth is filled with his glory!"

Yes, I know it was mighty seraphim, each with six wings who sang like that. And I know it was because they saw the Lord sitting on a throne. And I know I'm not a mighty seraphim---not even close. And I know I couldn't stand to look upon the Lord. I know. I know.

But worship leaders have moved me many times by leading with passion and with deep reverence  and respect for the Holy things of God.

Secular sounding music and jazzed up tunes will never move me to HOLY-----just HOLY MOLY, what's happening?


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

How Perseverance, Passion,
And Pluck Take You From
Ordinary To Extraordinary 
By Linda Kaplan Thaler & Robin Koval

OVERVIEW: In this splendid book Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval talk about what basketball legend Michael Jordan, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, and billionaire Michael Bloomberg have in common. Each of these extraordinary individuals was utterly ordinary growing up—no one would have ever predicted their future success. They weren't considered brilliant, talented, or destined for greatness. They failed early and often. But each one had the steadfast determination, stamina, and resilience that propelled them to excel in their field. In fact, new research shows that the secret to success isn't some rarefied "It" factor—it's the 'grit" factor, And each and every one of us can possess it. Grit to Great shows you the real secret to success—and it is something every one of us can embrace and develop, whether you're nine or ninety.

AUTHORS: LINDA KAPLAN THALER is an Advertising Hall of Fame luminary and helped create many of the industry's most iconic campaigns, including Kodak Moments and the hilarious Aflac Duck. Linda was the co-founder and CEO of the Kaplan Thaler Group. She is currently chairman of Publicis Kaplan Thaler, and the coauthor of several national bestsellers, including The Power of Nice  and The Power of Small. She lives with her family in New York City. ROBIN KOVAL is the CEO and president of the Truth Initiative, the national public health foundation dedicated to achieving a culture where all youth and young adults reject tobacco. Previously a leader in the world of advertising and marketing, Robin is co-founder of the Kaplan Thaler Group, creators of the Aflac Duck and many other well-known campaigns, and was CEO of Publicis Kaplan Thaler. She is the coauthor of the bestsellers The Power of Nice and The Poser of Small. Robin lives with her husband in Washington, DC.

MY REVIEW: Yesterday when I got home from the gym this excellent book, Grit To Great was waiting for me at our front gate. I started reading it that same afternoon and read until I had to put it down. I wasn't able to get back to it until this afternoon, but when I did I read until I finished it. It's good. Very good!

This is not a big book. It only has eight short chapters but they are power packed. The writers keep your interest with the dozens of illustrations and stories about how people have gone from ordinary to extraordinary. These people did this with perseverance, passion, and pluck. Thaler and Koval want you to know that you can too.

I loved the stories of success. And yes, there are many definitions of success. And although I don't admire every person held up as being an example of success or the cause for which they had passion and grit, I do see them ALL as splendid examples of  how grit can move a person to great.

I like what author, James Patterson said, "You don't need to be brilliant or incredibly talented to become hugely successful. But what you do need is to read this book. Grit To Great teaches us all how to develop our grit quotient so almost any goal is possible."

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.) 


Monday, September 21, 2015

By Eric Metaxas

OVERVIEW: What makes a great woman great? Seven Women explores the question by telling the captivating stories of seven women who changed the course of history.  Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Maria Skobtsova, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, and Mother Teresa—each of these world-changing figures followed the call placed on her life, doing so with remarkable feminine dignity. Writing in his trademark conversational and engaging style, Eric Metaxas reveals how the extraordinary women profiled here achieved their greatness, inspiring readers to lives guided by a call beyond themselves.

AUTHOR: Eric Metaxas is the New York Times #1 bestselling author of Miracles, Bonhoeffer, Seven Men, Amazing Grace, and more than thirty other books. He is the host of the Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally syndicated radio program heard in more than 120 cities around the country. ABC News has called Eric a "witty ambassador for faith." He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, DC, and he speaks to tens of thousands around the United States and internationally each year. Eric is a senior fellow and lecturer-at-large at the King's College in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

MY REVIEW: I agree with author, Karen Swallow Prior who said, "This might be the best book you read this year." Author and speaker, Anne Graham Lotz says that this book offers us a plumb line by which we can measure our faith, our courage to forsake personal comfort, boldness to take great risks, sacrificial compassion for others, and convictions to live—and die—by, just to name a few.

After hearing Eric Metaxas speak on television and at our church and having read three of his books: Bonhoeffer, Miracles and Seven Men, I knew I wanted to read this book—Seven Women. I was not disappointed. Metaxas has the ability to engage readers in the lives of these women and make you want to be a better person. When my daughter heard that I was reading this book she said, "I want to read it when you are finished. I hope many women will read this book and be inspired by it.

When I got my hands on this book I read the introduction and then turned immediately to woman number seven—Mother Teresa. I don't usually begin at the back of the book but I did this time. And yes, I already knew much about Mother Teresa but I wanted to know more. After reading that splendid story I then turned back to the front of the book and read about Joan of Arc. I knew almost nothing about this young woman. I was impressed! Joan of Arc, Susanna Wesley, Hannah More, Saint Maria of Paris, Corrie ten Boom, Rosa Parks, Mother Teresa. These are women who will inspire you. No, you will not be "on the same page" with all of these women. That would be impossible. But we can learn, be encouraged and gain something from all of them. This is a book that I recommend to women, young and old but also to men. Read it. You will be glad you did.

(I received this book from Thomas Nelson Publisher (Book Sneeze) in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, September 11, 2015


By Karen Kingsbury

OVERVIEW: "Kingsbury not only entertains but goes a step further and confronts readers with situations that are all too common, even for Christians. At the same time it will remind believers of God's mercy and challenge them to pray for America. The book...reveals God's awesome love and His amazing ability to turn moments of weakness into times of strengthening." (Christian retailing, Spotlight Review.)

AUTHOR: KAREN KINGSBURY is a USA Today and New York times best-selling author, with nearly twenty million books in print. Dubbed the "Queen of Christian Fiction" by Time magazine, Karen has written more than forty Life-Changing Fiction titles. Her emotionally gripping novels include the popular Baxter Family Drama, which encompasses the Redemption, Firstborn, and Sunrise series, as well as stand-alone novels such as Like Dandelion Dust, When Joy Came to Stay, and This Side of Heaven, Karen and her husband, Don, live in Tennessee and are parents to six children, including three adopted from Haiti.

MY REVIEW: Francine Rivers says it much better than I can. She said, "This book tears at the heart and shows, in no uncertain terms, why forgiving an enemy is the call of every Christian." I agree with Gary Smalley, best-selling author who said of Karen Kingsbury, "What a talent! I love her work."

Once you start reading, you will not want to put this book down. A drunk driver. A deadly accident. A dream destroyed. The book tells the story of Hannah Ryan a woman who realizes she has everything. Then a car pulls into Hannah's driveway, bringing two police officers...and devastating news that shatters her life forever.  A drunk driver causes her to have unspeakable feelings of sorrow and rage. He took her loved ones away. In her fury, Hannah shuts the Lord out of her life. She's determined not to forgive the drunk driver or God. You will be drawn into her life and her story and you will be "forced" to continue reading to find out if Hannah can rediscover her faith before bitterness destroys her.

I recommend this book not only because it is a fascinating read but because of the great lessons it contains.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)

AMERICA the STRONG—Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Conservative Ideas to Spark the Next Generation
By William J. Bennett and John T. E. Cribb

OVERVIEW: America the Strong shows the next generation five fundamental principles that have made the United States a great nation and why they are worth preserving. It answers more than one hundred questions, from "Do conservatives hate the government?" to "What's wrong with having an open border?" to "Why can't rich people pay all the taxes?"

AUTHORS: William J. Bennett is the former US Secretary of Education and current host of the seventh-ranked nationally syndicated radio program Morning in America. Bill is the author of twenty-four books, including #1 New York Times bestsellers The Book of Virtues and The Death of Outrage.
John T.E. Cribb is an author whose previous work includes The American Patriot's Almanac (co-authored with Bill Bennett) and The Educated Child (co-authored with Bill Bennett and Checker Finn). He has collaborated with Bill Bennett on several books, including The Book of Virtues.

MY REVIEW: America the Strong is one of the best books I have read this year. It is a book that needs to be read by every person interested in conservatives ideals. In my opinion, it also needs to be read by every American. But of course, we know that is not going to happen. Therefore I am just hoping to get this good book into the hands of as many as possible.

William J. Bennet and John T.E. Cribb deal with the distortion that "conservative" means extremist and intolerant. They explain what conservatism really means, using five fundamental principles summarized by the word FLINT:
*Free enterprise,
*Limited government,
*Individual liberty,
*National defense,
*Traditional values
This book explains why conservative ideas are good for our country and supplies clear rationales for taking a conservative stance. It answers more than a hundred questions about conservative positions on issues ranging from immigration to illegal drugs.

(I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I was asked today to name my favorite Max Lucado book.


NO WONDER THEY CALL HIM THE SAVIOR was my first Max Lucado book and my favorite.

It was 1986. Stockton, California. I was sitting in my study at the church building going through the mail. I opened a package that contained Max's book and a brief note. The book had been sent to me as a gift from Multnomah Press. I was surprised. But pleased.

I had never heard of Max Lucado. But I soon learned that he was also a member of the Church of Christ. I was interested.

I opened to the first chapter, THE PART THAT MATTERS.

The words I read had a profound effect on me and changed my life.

Max began by telling the story of a young man named Ian who grew up in the church but became disenchanted and quit. He asked Max, "What really matters? What counts?"

Max asks, "What would you have said to Ian? Would you have spoken on the evil of the world or maybe the eminence of heaven? Would you have quoted John 3:16 or Acts 2:38 or maybe read l Corinthians 13? What really matters?"

"Is this all there is? Sunday attendance. Pretty songs. Faithful tithings. Golden crosses. Three-piece suits. Big choirs. Leather Bibles. It is nice and all, but...where is the heart of it?"

Years later Max was still thinking about the question and he said, "Yet now, years later, I know what I would share with him."

Think about these words from Paul in l Corinthians, chapter 15. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.                         "First importance" he says. 
Read on:
That he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

"There it is. Almost too simple. Jesus was killed, buried, and resurrected. Surprised? The part that matters is the cross. No more and no less. The cross."


Monday, July 27, 2015

By Ronald Kessler

OVERVIEW: The First Family Detail reveals: *Vice President Joe Biden regularly orders the Secret Service to keep his military aide with the nuclear football a mile behind his motorcade, potentially leaving the country unable to retaliate in the event of a nuclear attack. *Secret Service agents discovered that former president Bill Clinton has a blond mistress—code named Energizer by the agents—who lives near the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, New York *The Secret Service covered up; the fact that President Ronald Reagan's White House staff overruled the agency to let unscreened spectators get close to Reagan as he left the Washington Hilton, allowing John W. Hinckley Jr. to shoot the president.* Because Hillary Clinton is so nasty to agents, being assigned to her protective detail is considered a form of punishment and the worst assignment in the Secret Service.
(From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: RONALD KESSLER is the New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets of the FBI, In the President's Secret Service, and The CIA at War. A former Wall Street Journal and Washington Post investigative reporter, Kessler has won eighteen journalism awards.

MY REVIEW: We all love stories. We all love storytellers. Ronald Kessler is a skilled storyteller. The stories he tells in this book are not fiction. This is dead-serious nonfiction. This book is crammed with headline-making revelations. It's about what goes on in the private lives of presidents, presidential candidates and their wives and children. This is a book about what these people are really like.

Secret Service agents have a front-row seat where they look on the private lives of those who lead our country. In this book Secret Service agents reveal the hidden lives of the presidents. If you are among the many interested in these behind the scene stories, you will love this book. If not, you will find Kessler's book a waster of time. Only you can make the decision.

One of the most interesting chapters, for me, was chapter eleven: White House Collar. This chapter tells the interesting story about how many people try to get into the White House to see the President and how the Secret Service protects him from these people and all those who might do him harm. The book has twenty-six chapters or stories and an epilogue. The stories are brief and the book is small. It's an easy, fun read. And very informative.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Friday, July 10, 2015

Medicine Park, Oklahoma is a beautiful little community about twenty miles from my home town of Lawton.

I started preaching there while I was still in High School.

The church met in a little cobblestone school building down by the creek.

Every Sunday I would teach a Bible Class. And then step up onto the school stage and lead the singing, read Scripture and pray. After that I would preach for about twenty-five minutes.

When I first started preaching there we had eleven members. The church grew slowly. But it did grow. As soon as a person confessed their faith in Christ we baptized them. In the warm part of the year we went to one of the beautiful lakes close by. In the winter months we drove into one of the Lawton church buildings and used their baptistery.

When it was time for me to leave for Abilene Christian College the church had grown to thirty-five members.

This little group of Christians hated to see me go but they were happy for me that I could continue my education and prepare to better preach the gospel.

On my last Sunday we had a little going away party. It was a pot-luck. That's what churches did back then. As we said our last good-byes they all gathered around to hug me and then a dear, old, gentleman pressed an envelope into my hand and walked away with tears in his eyes.

The envelope had money in it. Not much. But probably a sacrifice for most.

I went to Abilene Christian. I graduated with a major in Bible and a minor in speech.

What touched me the most when I opened that envelope was not the bills (although I needed them the most) but the change. Somebody---maybe a child or a widow, didn't have much but wanted to give. That was fifty-nine years ago but I get misty eyed every time I think about it---and that is often.

I loved that little church. I love the Lord's church every where. Always have. Always will. 


Monday, July 06, 2015

A Life In The Public Square
By Randy Boyagoda

OVERVIEW: Best known as the editor in chief of First Things magazine, a fixture in the national media, and a personal counselor to Pope John Paul II and President George W. Bush, Richard John Neuhaus was a brilliant, hard-charging hero for religious and political conservatives, and a fearsome, well-connected nemesis of religious and secular liberals. But his remarkable array of involvements in American public life weren't always conservative, or Catholic for that matter. For all the headline-grabbing and powerful influence, however, the heart of this captivating biography is the story of a man motivated in all things by a simple love of God—from his humble beginnings during the Depression in rural Canada to his days as a young Lutheran pastor in the inner cities of Brooklyn and then Manhattan to his years as, arguably, the most influential religious voice in America.

AUTHOR: Randy Boyagoda is a professor of American Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto. His most recent novel, Beggar's Feast, was selected as a New York times Book Review Editor's Choice, was nominated for the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, and hs been published to critical acclaim around the world. He written for a variety of publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, First Things, the New Statesman, and Harper's.

MY REVIEW: Richard John Neuhaus lived a fascinating and active life. This is a captivating biography. Neuhaus was one of the leading religious figures of the 20th century. He passionately defended and encouraged bringing religion into the public square. My personal beliefs and doctrine is vastly different than his, both when he was a Lutheran and then as a Catholic. But I strongly agree with his feelings about bringing religion into everyday life in general and especially politics.

I recommend this book to all those who love to read biographies. This is a good one! You will be interested in a man who was labeled sometimes as liberal and others times as conservative. "Neuhaus was truly a sign of contradiction in our times." Author Randy Boyagoda has written a biography that is balanced, interesting and relevant. He has done careful research and although he writes in a very detailed way, he is able to hold your interest.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Monday, June 08, 2015

"Let me go, let me go, let me go lover, let me go, let me go, let me go!" goes the song.

Turn me loose, let me go needs to be said to many people and things. It's not always lovers that have us in a strong grip.

John Ortberg writes about the possibility of us being in the grip of idolatry and then mentions the idolatry of place. ( His book: All The Places To Go--How Will You Know?)

In a recent Face Book post I wrote about how much I love Arizona and how I believe we should love where we are. But I also see John's point that we can be held captive by the idolatry of place. 

We should never be so in love with place that we cannot be moved---not even by God.

When God opens a door we need to go through it. 

Change is hard, And it's not always easy to know if the voice we hear is God's voice. But we need to listen.

In Genesis God told Abraham to go. Abraham was told to leave home. That could not have been easy. But he went. God "opened a door" and Abraham went though it. From our perspective we can see it was the right thing to do.

We need to walk with God in such a way that when he speaks we recognize His Voice. 

Let's not let any place become an idol that we cannot break the grip of.

Abraham left his home and as a result became a blessing to many.

Called people are Blessed to Bless!


Thursday, June 04, 2015

How Just One Change Can
Make All Of Life Better
By Brant Hansen

OVERVIEW: Isn't taking offense normal? Aren't we supposed to get offended? Isn't anger at sin justifiable? If God gets mad, why can't we? Brant Hansen asks a radical, freeing question: What if Christians were the most unoffendable people on the planet? And he offers a life-changing idea: "righteous anger" is a myth, and giving up our "right" to be offended can be one of the most healthy, simplifying, relaxing, refreshing, stress-relieving, encouraging things we can do. In a winsome, humorous, and conversational style, Hansen helps you release religious burdens and experience the joy of gratitude, perhaps for the first time, every single day of your life.

AUTHOR: BRANT HANSEN is a radio host who has won multiple National Personality of the Year awards. He also works with CURE International, a worldwide network of hospitals that brings life-changing medical care and the good news of God's love to children with treatable conditions. Brant has been a game inventor and a youth pastor, and is still a very poor (his words) accordion player, although he ardently defends his right to play it. Brant currently lives in Northern California with his wife, Carolyn; his son, Justice; and his daughter, Julia. He can be found at branthansen.com and @branthansen on Twitter.

MY REVIEW: Even before I got to the table of contents I was liking this book. In the middle of a blank page I read these words: "To all those who want grace for themselves but struggle to extend it to others. Wait: that's everybody." I turned the page and found this powerful statement by Dallas Willard: "Anger is the most fundamental problem in human life." Wow! This is a good book.

The title of the first chapter states that being unoffendable is a ridiculous idea. Before reading Hansens's book that was exactly what I thought. After reading this splendid book, I changed my mind. However, I have to confess—I still struggle with the thought.

Hansen writes with a humorous, grace filled style. His book is easy to read but what he teaches is tough to accept as truth. But truth it is and by the time you get to the last page you will know it and accept it. This is a book that needed to be written AND READ.

( I received this book from Book Sneeze a division of Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Making A Life Of One's Own
By Kate Bolick

OVERVIEW: SPINSTER is a slyly erudite look at the pleasures and possibilities of remaining single. Using her own experiences as a starting point, journalist and cultural critic Kate Bolick invites us into her carefully considered, passionately lived life, weaving together the past and present to examine why she—along with over 100 million American women, whose ranks keep growing—remain unmarried. Intellectually substantial and deeply personal, Spinster is both an unreservedly inquisitive memoir and a broader cultural exploration that asks us to acknowledge the potential within ourselves to live authentically. Bolick offers us a way back into our own lives—a chance to see those splendid years when we were young and unencumbered, or middle-aged and finally left to our own devices, for what they really are: unbounded and ours to savor.

AUTHOR: KATE BOLICK is a contributing editor to The Atlantic. She was previously the executive editor of Domino magazine. She lives in New York.

MY REVIEW: As a minister for forty-seven years I did a lot of counseling. I counseled with singles, married, divorced, young, old, rich, poor, sexually confused, depressed—you name it. They were all trying to learn how to live authentically. Almost all of them were trying desperately to "measure up"—to please others. I wish I had read Kate Bolick's book back in my counseling days. Her book is not only helpful for singles, it encourages us all to examine the way we live. We all should consider the question Mary Oliver asks and Bolick ends her book with: "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

I didn't enjoy reading about Kate Bolick's sex life but maybe singles will feel they need this information. If so, they will not be disappointed as she is not timid in revealing this part of her life and the five woman she introduces as those who blazed a trail before her. I became a little bored with all the details she went into when telling us how these women lived.

Susan Cain is a bestselling author and one that I admire. However, I think she missed the mark when she said, "Kate Bolick's Spinster will take your breath away." I don't think so! However, I do think you will appreciate this book and Bolick's insistence on an examined life. Singles especially will be interested in the statement Bolick begins her book with: "WHOM TO MARRY, AND WHEN WILL IT HAPPEN—THESE TWO QUESTIONS DEFINE EVERY WOMAN'S EXISTENCE."
And if they do not already know it, she helps them to understand times have changed. You no longer have that question hanging over your head. You do not have to marry at all to live an authentic life.

(I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for a fair and honest review.)


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

By Keith Ferrin

OVERVIEW: Do you feel like you SHOULD read the Bible more? This book will help you WANT to read it. Keith Ferrin has been talking to churches for years about enjoying God's Word. Here he shares the most helpful ideas and habits you can start using today. You will find ten proven tips that are equally practical whether you are a longtime Bible student or simply exploring what this life-changing book is all about. Aimed at deepening your relationship with God, these simple suggestions will help you focus more easily as your read, remember Scripture better, and most importantly, enjoy the Bible and its Author more than you ever dreamed possible. (From the back of the book.)

AUTHOR: KEITH FERRIN is an author, speaker, and storyteller who strives to help people realize that the living Word of God is a reality—not a phrase. His one-man dramatic, word-for-word presentations of whole books of the Bible have been seen by thousands. Keith lives with his wife and three children just outside of Seattle, Washington.

MY REVIEW: Before I read Keith's book I would have said, "Yes, I enjoy reading the Bible!" Every Sunday for forty-seven years I went to the pulpit with a Bible in my hand. I preached from it. I taught Sunday morning and Wednesday night Bible classes. I preached from the Bible in evangelistic meetings. I conducted many small group home Bible studies. I love the Scriptures. I have given my life to teaching from them. Enjoy the Bible? Of course I do! However now, after reading this splendid book, I have to think that I haven't always enjoyed reading the Bible in the way Keith writes about it.

This book opened my eyes to many things. I now approach the Bible in a new way and I am enjoying it MORE. I believe every Christian I know can profit from reading this book. I hope many will read it and share what they learn with others. If you think you enjoy reading the Bible now get this book, you will enjoy it even more. And that will be a blessing.

(I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a fair and honest review.)